U.S. commemorates 82nd anniversary of Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

The United States commemorates the 82nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Thursday, with solemn ceremonies planned in Hawaii and elsewhere. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The United States on Thursday commemorated the 82nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, with solemn ceremonies planned in Hawaii and elsewhere for several days.

The day began with a remembrance ceremony at the National Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu, where survivors, veterans and visitors from around the world gathered to remember the 2,400 Americans who died in the surprise bombing raid on Dec. 7, 1941.

A 1 p.m. service at the memorial will honor 415 sailors and 14 Marines killed aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized and sank after being hit by nine torpedoes.

Also at the Memorial site, a service is planned to spread some of the ashes of Pearl Harbor survivor Jack Holder, who died in February after he attended commemoration ceremonies a year ago. He will be buried at a later date with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a release from Pacific Historic Parks.

Elsewhere, the National WWII Museum in New Orleans planned to mark the anniversary with a Pearl Harbor commemorative ceremony that was free and open to the public.

A day earlier, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation declaring Dec. 7 as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

"I encourage all Americans to reflect on the courage shown by our brave service members that day and remember their sacrifices," Biden wrote. "I ask us all to give sincere thanks and appreciation to the survivors of that unthinkable day."

In the message, Biden paid tribute to the bravery of service members of "the Greatest Generation," whose defense of the nation more than eight decades ago continues to inspire unity and purpose.

"We must continue to honor our sacred obligation to care for our service members; veterans; and their families, caregivers and survivors -- including our World War II veterans, who dared all and risked all for our country," Biden wrote.

The president said he ordered federal agencies to fly the U.S. flag at half-staff in "honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor."

In Hawaii, a sunset ceremony was held on the shores of Honolulu in memory of the USS Utah, which was the first warship lost in the kamikaze attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

A group of elderly female veterans known as "Rosie the Riveters" -- who worked in factories and shipyards during WWII, producing munitions and war supplies for deployed soldiers -- also met with the public and signed posters at the memorial site.

Services will continue Friday with a ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial to commemorate a separate bombing raid on June 20, 1945, when two U.S. B-29s collided over Shizuoka, Japan, killing 21 crewmen and more than 2,000 Shizuoka residents.

As part of the ceremonies, National Park Service divers will conduct a live dive at the USS Arizona memorial site in the harbor.

The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 was a pivotal turning point in WWII, marking the entry of the United States into the global conflict, which played a crucial role in liberating most of Europe from German control and ultimately brought an end to the war four years later, with millions of lives lost across the globe.

Each year, tributes are held worldwide to commemorate key moments of the war while remembering the heroism of the those who died.